Neuropathic pain is one area of research in which medical cannabis is making real strides. This pain is characterized as pain which occurs as a result of damage to the somatosensory nervous system. The damage can be caused by injury or disease.
This pain can manifest very differently for different people. While some will experience it as a constant tingling or stinging sensation throughout the day, others will experience bursts of sharp, stabbing-like pain. It varies in severity, but for some people it can be highly debilitating.
Researchers have been studying the causes of this form of chronic pain for many years, and in more recent years much of this research has focused on the potential of cannabis to treat it effectively with minimal risks or side effects.
Thirty-nine patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain underwent a standardized procedure for inhaling medium-dose, low-dose, or placebo cannabis with the primary outcome being visual analog scale pain intensity.
As these NNTs are comparable to those of traditional neuropathic pain medications, cannabis has analgesic efficacy with the low dose being as effective a pain reliever as the medium dose. Vaporized cannabis, even at low doses, may present an effective option for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain.
Participants on 3.53% cannabis had a worse performance than those on 1.29% for learning and memory, while delayed memory was not different between 1.29% cannabis and the placebo. Participants on 1.29% cannabis had a slightly worse performance than when on 3.53% cannabis during testing of psychomotor skills with the dominant hand.
In general, the effects on cognitive testing were consistent with the minimal doses of cannabis employed. The greatest side effects were seen on learning and memory, where side effect on daily functioning were in the small to medium range and not believed to be strong enough to inhibit patients’ daily lives.
In recent comparisons of cannabis related effects on cognitive performance of frequent and infrequent users, cannabis significantly reduced performance on tasks assessing perceptual motor control, motor inhibition, and divided attention among.
The lack of clarity in theses results isn’t very surprising. It is unfortunately often the case that medical research of this kind leads to just one clear conclusion; that more research is needed. That is certainly the case in the study of the effects of cannabis on neuropathic pain. Nonetheless, researchers remain hopeful that cannabis could be a neuropathic pain treatment in the future.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.